Whilst recently cycling along part of the National Cycle Network route NCN25 from Wimborne to Blandford in Dorset, we spotted a sign pointing to an historic church that we’d not noticed before. Always keen to explore local history, we turned into the little track leading to the Church of St Mary, Tarrant Crawford. These days, Tarrant Crawford is a tiny place consisting of just a church, a farm and a house. It seems that this is all that remains of the original Tarrant Crawford and it is set in an utterly unspoilt pastoral landscape.
The track follows the tiny river Tarrant and you cross over a little bridge to reach the church. I don’t think the church is used much these days, having a Sunday service just once a month throughout the summer. Fortunately, the church is now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust, so is fairly well preserved. It is an attractive little church near the site of an old abbey. The east wall is probably 12th century, but the rest is mainly late 13th century.
On entering the church, one is surprised to see striking wooden rafters of an early 16th century wagon roof and impressive ancient mural paintings on the main church walls (in the nave). The murals had obviously been plastered over at some stage in the past but have now been uncovered. Easily seen are the paintings illustrating the mortality of the three living and the three dead: three kings or princes come upon three skeletons who warn them of the emptiness of earthly rank and riches. Nothing much changes over time, then!!
I revisited the site some time later to take some photographs in HDR (high dynamic range), the results of which can be seen below.